Widely shared posts on Facebook claim to be from “NHS staff”, and ask people to ensure they take their NHS number with them when they receive the Covid-19 vaccine to avoid delays. An NHS number is not required when receiving the vaccine and there is no national NHS policy to insist upon one. Some NHS trusts have asked people to bring their NHS number if possible to avoid delays.
The posts say: “A plea from NHS staff. Please please please make sure you and your family all dig out your NHS number and have a copy of it it [sic] immediately to hand for when you or they are called for the COVID jab. From my colleagues on the front line this is far and away the biggest bottle neck when it comes to administering the vaccine to as many people as quickly as possible. You can find your NHS number on any NHS correspondence or through the app. It would also be really helpful if you can share this message with everyone you know. Thank you.”
NHS England confirmed to Full Fact that an NHS number is not required when receiving the Covid-19 vaccine and there is no national policy that NHS numbers should be provided. Patients only have to supply their name and date of birth to receive the vaccine.
Some NHS trusts have said it may be helpful to bring an NHS number to avoid delay when receiving the vaccine. NHS England confirmed that not having an NHS number with you when arriving for your vaccine appointment was unlikely to slow the process down or cause a “bottleneck”, as the post suggests, but said some trusts may request patients bring it for ease.
When booking a Covid-19 vaccine online, patients are asked for their NHS number. However, if you do not know your NHS number you can still book an appointment.
An NHS number is a unique, 10 digit number that helps healthcare professionals and providers identify patients and keep track of their health records. You should receive one if you are registered for NHS care. People who receive a letter inviting them for a coronavirus vaccination will find their NHS number included in the letter. If you are receiving the vaccine in England, you should also be registered to a GP in England—meaning you should have an NHS number.
The NHS website says: “You do not need to know your NHS number, or have an NHS number, to receive care.”